My Dad has a greenhouse, very much like the one in the photo. It's not a great greenhouse but one big enough to grow some cucumbers, tomatoes and a large single grape vine. The vine has been there for years and every summer it produces many bunches of juicy sweet grapes.
I was thinking about vines this month after reading what Jesus said about them (recorded for us in the Bible in John chapter 15). In His analogy, Jesus is the complete vine and we, as followers of Him, are the branches.
On my Dad's vine, to be honest, the branches are the last bit of the vine that stand out. In the spring and summer it is the full bunches of grapes hanging down from the glass roof that catch the eye. Next you see the large vivid green leaves trying to catch every available ray of sunlight.
And as for the branches - so not that 'special' then?
The strange thing is that as far as the amount of work put in to looking after the vine, it is the branches that need the most attention. To obtain such a good crop of delicious fruit, my Dad would continually "dress" the vine throughout the growing season and especially early in the season. I say "dress" but "organised destruction" might be a better term if you saw how much of the vine is removed!
Months before fruit is expected, the vine needs to be heavily pruned. Much of the growth seen coming from the branches is removed and parts of the branches which are diseased, damaged or dead are cut off the vine. This is all done to ensure that what remains is the best it can be to produce a bumper crop of sweet juicy grapes.
"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit." (John 15:20)
A couple of things hit me here, as a 'branch' within the vine:
So what should each branch be doing then? Simply this - allow the life-giving sap emanating in the vine to flow through it.
Are we allowing God to work through us?
Are our lives effective 'conduits' for Christ?
Do we abide in Him and rely on Him for everything?
Just like in the analogy of the vine, as branches we can do nothing on our own. We were created for dependency.
The Lord doesn't depend on us to do His will, we depend on Him to do His will through us.
"…apart from Me, you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
"As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me." (John 15:4)
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
As we move into a brand new year with its new possibilities and its new pitfalls, let us all rely on Him for everything in 2013.
We've found the secret of living,
We've seen the vision divine:
We are of God in Christ Jesus,
We're abiding, abiding in the vine.
Abiding in the vine, abiding in the vine,
All the riches of God's life are mine!
Praise God, He put us here, never to leave;
Oh, we're abiding, abiding in the vine.
A happy and peaceful New Year from all of us at 'the Grove'.
Until next month then (DV)…
(All Bible quotations are from the NASB)
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